Wednesday, January 18, 2012

in their shoes

A friend from the U.S. posed a unique question to me one day.  
What could she do with her children at home
to help them better understand the lives of children 
in developing countries?

Out of that question came the following; 
a list of suggestions for a day in their shoes.  
By doing some or all of these activities, 
you just might get an amazing glimpse into the way many children in our world live.

A Day in Their Shoes:

- eat only white rice for the day; for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- or supplement the rice with a little bit of tropical fruit... bananas, pineapple and papaya are all affordable fruits, at least in the Philippines!
- eat all your food with only a spoon
- drink only water, and to be even more realistic, make it room temperature

- but try drinking it without a cup - out of a plastic bag with a!
- use no running water for the day, or to be a little less drastic, use only cold running water
- take a sponge bath, not in a tub or shower (and remember to use that cold water)
- and use no soap; soap is expensive!
- spend the day in just one room of your house, or outdoors
- sleep together on the floor on a mat in that same room 
- walk everywhere you go that day - use no private or public transit
- simulate random power outages; these are very common in developing countries
- wear no shoes, or just flip flops if you go out, even if it's cold
- scrub some clothes by hand together, and hang them out to dry

- have your children do some manual labor for a very low wage
- or have them work for a 'rich' neighbor, and all they earn will go toward dinner for the family that night
- dig through your own trash to see if there's anything re-useable

- take off your watch and cover up your clocks; in a developing country, relationships are much more important than time!
- so take a walk through your neighborhood; stop and talk with everyone you see
- or just sit outside your house to talk (chika-chika!) as a family, welcoming neighbors to join you as they pass by
- but keep your mouth shut when you smile, so none of them will notice your rotting teeth  :(
- play with no toys today; instead see how many games you can make up using just a bag of rubber bands, or bottle caps, or other simple recyclables
- squat on the floor as you play your games!

For those who would like to add some more educational value to the experience, 
try one of the following...

-You might do a water purification science experiment and talk about the difficulty in finding clean drinking water in many parts of the world. You can then talk about the many types of illnesses (typhoid, cholera, amoebic dysentery) that come from drinking contaminated water.

-Sleep under a mosquito net and talk about mosquitoes and malaria. This is a major killer in developing countries and bug nets help to save lives. 

-This one may be too overwhelming, but it is very realistic. Visit a city dump. See the trash, smell the smells. Then talk about children living in dumps and looking for anything they can eat or sell.

End the day by giving thanks to God for all you have, 
and in asking Him how you might reach out to those who have so much less...
some of whom are your little brothers and sisters in Christ, 
and who you'll meet one day in Heaven!

What aspect of life in a developing country would be the biggest challenge to you?


The Boys and Me said...

WOW! How humbling! Great ideas! I think I might try a few and tie in some geography since our oldest is asking about Africa (he's fascinated by African animals lately). Thank you!!!!!

us5 said...

that's great, Jaymi! i'm happy it's helpful!